Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sex Education/Pregnancy Prevention/Coke (WARNING: PG-13)

How did most of us learn what we know about s-e-x? I took an informal survey among my fellow inmates at the loony bin and the staff who are paid to supervise us but mostly do their nails and read People magazine. Most of us acquired the majority of our knowledge on the subject from slightly older relatives or older siblings of our friends. Of course we then had to unlearn a whole lot of it, because most of what these helpful individuals shared with us was complete garbage. Fortunately we were young enough when we first learned the faux information that it didn't do any real damage.

My parents were always very open about the human body and reproduction, although I think they tried not to tell us more than what we really wanted to know. I could pretty much ask anything and be given an age-appropriate answer. Sometimes I did just that. At other times it was a whole lot more fun to hear from my cousin about how a girl could supposedly prevent pregnancy by douching with Coke before and after intercourse. If it was unplanned sex, a girl could still skew the odds in her favor by doing the post-coital Coke douche, but the girl who didn't plan ahead and limited herself to just the after-party cocktail was, in effect, playing Russian roulette with her reproductivity. What seems now ironic to me is that the cousin who told me this is a daughter of Uncle Mahonri. (She's an old married woman with kids now, and she didn't have any babies out of wedlock, so either the Coke douche worked for her or no guy ever went near her. I'd bet on the latter.) If you're a first-time reader I'll share with you that my Uncle Mahonri was arrested a month or so ago for stealing a crate of disposable douches.

Now I can't help wondering if there is some connection between Uncle Mahonri's older daughter's belief in Coke douches as effective birth control (what the Coke douches were more likely effective at was giving any girl stupid enough to try it the yeast infection from hell) and the disposable douches he stole. Maybe it was just the douche bottles he wanted and not the actual douching fluid. Perhaps Uncle Mahonri intended to empty the bottles of their original contents and then refill them with Coke so that if any of his daughters were to engage in sex, they could be proactive in limiting its consequences. On the other hand, aren't Mormons discouraged from consuming Coke, never mind the premarital intimacy angle? If they're not supposed to even drink Coke, what twist in a revelation could possibly make it acceptable to squirt the stuff into unmentionable places?

The one thing my cousin's impromptu birth control lesson did for me was to make Coke a totally repulsive beverage that went on my Donner Party* list. Why would I drink something if its real purpose was for the prevention of pregnancy via douching? My Mormon relatives thought I was finally seeing the light in at least one regard when I would turn down Coke in favor of water or milk, but the real reason was just how grossed out I was by the association.

About a year ago, in a conversation regarding just how truly demented everyone in Uncle Mahonri's immediate family is, I casually mentioned to my mother what my cousin had told me about special douches that prevent pregnancy. My mom was in her bed recovering from kidney surgery, so I guess it wasn't a very good time to have shared this information with her. She started laughing hysterically, which hurt her kidney, so she grabbed a pillow to try to cushion it. (I don't really understand how that would help, but at that point I had never had kidney surgery.) My dad heard her and thought something was terribly wrong, so he came running upstairs to their bedroom. She was laughing too hard to really talk, so she used sign language of sorts to indicate that I should tell him what I told her. I told him. (We're not all that delicate in what we talk about even between genders in my family.) My dad fell onto the bed laughing. My brother came in and wanted to know what was going on, so I told him. He didn't know what a douche was, so I told him that as well. He was like, "You girls do that with Coke?" I explained to him that no, we don't, and it was just something that our wacked cousin said. He still didn't get it and didn't think it was half as funny as the rest of us did. He probably pictured in his mind something such as my cousin shaking a can or bottle of Coke until it reached maximum explodability, and then holding it you-know-where as she opened it, and this mental image of douching will probably torture my brother for life. Maybe he'll become a Catholic priest as a result just to avoid dealing with such matters.

I apologize for not having come even close to adequately covering the topic of sex education. At some point in the near future, I will.

By the way, I still don't drink Coke. Neither does my brother anymore.

* My Donner Party list is my list of foods (or drinks) that I would not eat
(or drink) even if I were trapped in the snowy mountains near Truckee with my options being limited to the items on my Donner Party list, one of the Reed family's legs, or certain starvation. I don't know for sure which option I would choose (I tend to think it would be death by starvation) but I know absolutely that I would not opt to eat one of the items on my Donner Party list.

Immigration Reform

I will now address a topic about which I know very little. My detractors would ask, "How is this new or in any way different from anything else you write?" I admit that as a sixteen-year-old who was born in the U. S., and, for that matter, not all that close to any foreign borders, despite the lame U. S. government course I took in high school, how can I profess to have any real knowledge regarding the subject of immigration?

Three of my four grandparents were born in nations other than the United States and immigrated here. My remaining grandparent was the son of two Irish immigrants. Who am I to to say that the borders should remain open long enough to let my family in, but that they then should then be tightly sealed against all but the most wealthy and educated of foreigners who would desire to come here? As a nation of immigrants, we should all understand that underlying sentiment to some degree. Still, our nation probably cannot continue to function even as well as it currently functions if anyone and everyone who wants to come here for whatever reason is allowed to do so. Some control of the borders is inevitable.

My purpose for addressing the topic at this time, while I have nothing intelligent to contribute to the discussion, is to express a small degree of pride in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for taking a decidedly non-conservative position on this divisive issue. The church has come out in favor of the government taking a "vompassionate stance' in keeping families together. The Church took a major risk of alienating a portion of its membership, some of whom would make John Birch appear liberal by comparison. For once I can say with at least a small measure of pride that my father gave two years of his life in missionary service for this faith.

God help us to keep this nation as one to which anyone in his or her right mind would desire to immigrate.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sex and the School (Warning-PG-13)

Some students, parents, and teachers put much faith in the "word on the street" as being a valid and reliable source concerning what is actually happening at my high school, among the students who attend the school, and with the adults who work there. The information travels in various forms. While it was formerly limited to word of mouth, either in person or by phone, or by the occasional passage of a note in class, the grapevine wasn't terribly efficient in the olden days.

Along with just about everything else in the modern world, today's bush network has gone high tech. Rumors, or truths, as some would prefer to perceive them, often initiate via word of mouth, but text-messaging and social networks are usually involved within minutes of the initial news flash. Those unfamiliar with the students and staff at my high school might make the assumption that the topics of such newsbreaks and subsequent text messages and Facebook postings occasionally concern who tried out for some local version of "American Idol" and was laughed off the stage, or who just came out [of the closet; DUH!], or even who shoplifted what item that she's wearing at school today, and from what store she shoplifted it. Anyone assuming any such thing about the rumors circulating at my school is way off base. Gossip at my school concerns one thing and one thing only: sex.

If the rumor mill at my high school is to be believed, teachers are almost constantly having sex with other teachers or school employees. Students are doing the same with other students or even occasionally non-students, with at times the two circles of the figurative Venn diagram intersecting. If the rumor mills at my school have any substance to them whatsoever, very little activity of any kind other than sex could possibly be happening at any given moment and at any given place on campus. With all the sex that's rumored to be happening, there simply cannot be any time for education, athletic participation (except in the sense that sex is athletic participation; hell, maybe we should turn it into some sort of competitive sport; if the rumors are even half true, our school could kick any other school's butt in a sex contest), or anything else of a non-erotic nature. We're all far too busy having sex to work, study, learn, or practice.

The irony in this is that my school has an amazingly high passage rate, even with record numbers of students taking the tests, for Advanced Placement exams. Only one explanation for this is plausible: the students at my school must be freaking geniuses if they're able to have sex all day in place of focusing on their studies yet still receive college credits for academic work done while in high school. Actually, I wrote prematurely when I declared the existence of only one possibility for my school's high academic performance in spite of the dearth of time and resources actually devoted to academic studies. Clearly another explanation exists, or even co-exists. (I think the medical and psychological term for this phenomenon is comorbidity.)In any event, one must not discount the possible role of the act of sex itself in my school's relatively strong academic performance as measured by comparatively high Advanced Placement exam scores. Perhaps sex makes people smarter. The more I ponder the hypothesis, the more logical it seems, especially in conjunction with the comorbidity factor. Teachers become more intelligent and competent teachers without ever teaching anything to anyone by having sex with one another, which in turn impacts students, who are also procreating and mutiplying their respective intellectual capabilities exponentially. With all the government money doled out in the form of grants for the purposes of legitimatre academic and educational research, why has this hypothesis yet to be fully tested? Why did it take a sixteen-year-old girl to come up with it?

According to "common knowledge" or "the word on the street," my school has become some sort of a free brothel. The students are then successfully moving on to respectable universities, often with nearly one-quarter of their university credits completed before the students have even set foot on the university campuses. Rumors are always true -- I've been told such is even more the case if the information was gleaned from the Internet. (If you read something on the Internet, it has to be true, right?) Sex makes people smarter and causes them to be more successful in their academic endeavors. If you are a student and are not having sex at this very minute, you are wasting precious time and valuable brain cells.


The purpose of this discourse is not to make light of any situation in which a student, male or female, is physically or psychologically coerced into an inappropriate relationship of any kind with an authority figure. Such action is, of course, abhorrent, and should be dealt with through the appropriate channels.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Aunt is Still Tripping

I spoke with Auntie on the phone today. She was trying to make sense of the various "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" and related spin-off series. That's one way I know she's under the influence of some mind-altering substance. She would never leave a Kardashian show on for long enough to try to make sense of it, as though sense exists to be made of it in the first place. She kept calling me and asking who these different characters (I call them characters rather than people because, to me, it's all just bad acting) were. She wanted to know what happened to Reggie Bush. Then she was getting Scott Disick confused with Rob Kardashian and was wanting to know why even a network as low-brow as E! would show a brother and sister who had a kid together and were preparing to become intimate again. Her vision was blurred, too, and she thought Kris Jenner was the actress who once played Felicia (or however the character's name was spelled) on Another World. I'm sure the actress has been on another soap since Another World's demise, but I have so little exposure to soaps that it's a miracle I even knew about Felicia and Another World.My aunt was also confused in regard to why Bruce Jenner was spending so much time at the Kardashians' home. She couldn't get it through her Vicodin-addled brain that the late (may he rest in peace) Robert Kardashian's former wife is now married to Bruce Jenner. Either that, or she just didn't really care, but was so bored and stoned that she kept calling me anyway. She's also confused about how any of these people other than maybe Bruce Jenner have attained sufficient stature in life to be extended the honor (or dishonor) of a reality TV series. I told her it's a question for the ages, and pundits have been trying to solve the puzzle since the very first Kardashian-related series aired.

The verdict is not yet in on my prom date. Both the person and the situation are being investigated from numerous angles. If the invitation was or is sincere, I feel sorry for the guy. If it wasn't or isn't, he deserves any scrutiny or bad publicity that falls his way. I hope to have an answer soon. Either way, I know my life will continue on its same boring course.

Sayonara!

My Aunt Wants Vicodin: Dedicated to and Inspired by Both My Real Aunt and Aunt Becky

There is truth to what I'm writing, so Aunt Becky (Sherrick Harks) is less likely to sue me for using her considered-but-rejected blog title as my heading for this particular blog entry. My aunt had surgery to remove portions of her intestine because of two perforated ulcers (I admit to profound ignorance once more: I don't even know whether it was her large or small intestine, or if she had a separate ulcer in each) and to resect the intestines minus the damaged and removed portions. Often, I've been told, when a person has intestinal surgery, the use of narcotics is limited because the use of opiates greatly interferes with intestinal motility.

Isn't that just what you wanted to read about? I hope anyone who is reading this is not eating. I'll try to be more sensitive to these sorts of matters in the future. My aunt, however, has cystic fibrosis. Patients with cystic fibrosis often suffer from either too little intestinal motility or too much of it. My aunt's situation is the latter. Food travels through her at the rate the late Secretariat ran the track at the Belmont Stakes. A little bit of sluggishness in the gastric motility department is actually a good thing for my aunt. It might actually allow food to remain in her system long enough for her to absorb a few nutrients. Her doctors, then, have liberally prescribed painkillers for her.

Painkillers alter my aunt's personality. She has a normally pleasant enough disposition. While she does possess a sense of humor, not everything that might occur in an unremarkable interval of an hour or so would necessarily send her into fits of hysteria. When she takes Vicodin, however, all bets are off as to what she'll find beyond hilarious. My uncle experienced just the slightest degree of difficulty in removing the child-proof cap from my aunt's Vicodin bottle one afternoon.

My uncle doesn't know the rule about child-proof caps, which is that if one is having difficulty opening a child-proof bottle of anything, hand it to a little kid, and he or she will have it open in a nano-second. The kindergarten teacher my twin brother and I had was a senior citizen and took a whole slew of medications, from blood thinners to beta blockers to MAO inhibitors to Prozac to God only know what else. She brought the bottles to school each morning in a slate-blue plastic basket. The "medicine monitor" would set a timer and would, at the appointed times, open the bottles, count out the correct numbers of pills of each sort, and hand-deliver them to our teacher, along with a glass of water. I don't recall that any of the kindergartners in our class ever thought to mention this slightly odd procedure to our parents. Why in hell would we have done that? Doing such might have cost us a turn at being the "medicine monitor," which was one of the more highly-coveted classroom jobs. It ranked just beneath "office monitor," who delivered hand-written messages, supplies, or whatever, to and from the office, but ahead of "telephone monitor," who answered the classroom intercom phone and relayed messages between the caller and the teacher because the aging teacher lacked sufficient mobility to actually walk the distance to the phone herself. Another important job was "fire drill monitor." This wasn't such a highly preferred duty as some of the others, because fire drills happened only once a month unless a juvenile delinquent was unsupervised in the vicinity of a fire alarm and pulled it at a time when a fire drill had not been scheduled, or, God forbid, an actual fire broke out. It was, nonetheless, an important task. The kindergarten teacher's ability to discern high-pitched frequencies, such as that of the sound emitted by our school's fire alarm system, fell somewhere between "hard of hearing" and "stone-cold deaf." Had the alarm sounded, the class would have heard it and would have exited the building, but the teacher would either have been left sitting at her desk wondering what had happened to the class or, in the event of an actual fire, would have gone down with the seventy-something-year-old building that couldn't possibly have been anywhere near up to code. Thus, the "fire drill monitor" had the duty to alert the kindergarten teacher whenever the fire alarm sounded. Enough about my brother's and my rather bizarre kindergarten experience. I must get back to the discussion of my aunt and her unusual reaction to Vicodin.

My uncle's difficulty in opening the child-proof bottle of Vicodin took place more than four hours after my aunt had been given her most recent dose, so we're talking half-life at best where the effects of the drug were concerned. Still, my aunt laughed harder at my uncle trying in vain to pry open the child-proof container than my brother laughs when he's watching The Hangover, which is his favorite movie of all time. I'd be afraid to let my aunt watch The Hangover if she'd taken any Vicodin within twenty-four hours; she would quite possibly laugh so hard she'd either pee on herself, go into a seizure, or have a stroke.

My aunt laughs riotously at The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour when she's on Vicodin. She also thinks ladybugs are funny when she's under the influence of the drug. I told my uncle that he must never take my aunt to a funeral, no matter how close she may have been to the deceased, if she's been given Vicodin or any related opiate within a week of the scheduled date and time of the funeral. My aunt would probably laugh, and not just at the lame jokes of the eulogist or of those participating in the "open-mike" portion of the funeral, but at the incensing of the coffin or at the vocalist's rendition of "The Old Rugged Cross" (which, I admit, has been laughable at least once at a funeral at which I was in attendance, but still, we all showed proper respect by pretending either to cry or to cough instead; there are times when one does not laugh). She would disgrace our entire family. My uncle agreed with me and said that if a funeral ever were to be scheduled without sufficient notice to keep my aunt off the Vicodin for a suitable interval, she'd have to sit that one out.

My aunt, I'm told, is not prone to addiction. She's already taking considerably less Vicodin than she was when she first left the hospital about a week ago. Conversations with her are slightly more lucid but are not as much fun. I spend a not insignificant part of vacation time with her and her husband, and they have taken on portion of the chore of teaching me to drive. Sooner or later they'll send me on the occasional errand with one of their cars. I'm hoping nothing ever goes wrong on any of these excursions, but I should probably prepare for the worst by getting my hands on a Vicodin and squirreling it away for one of those true "rainy day" moments, such as if someone ever were to sideswipe me or, even worse, if I were to back into a fire hydrant.

If that were to happen, I would say, "Auntie, you look like you're in pain. Your abdomen must be hurting from your surgery you had [however many] months ago. Here! Have a Vicodin! It'll make you feel better." I would produce the tablet, which she would gladly take. I would wait twenty minutes or so for it to take effect . . . Then I'd tell her about the car.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mommy Wants Vodka

I probably should have put the title of today's blog in quotations, because it's the title of a blog that belongs to someone else and is probably even copyrighted. I certainly don't want to be sued by the owner of the copyright, if, indeed, it is copyrighted. I could go back now and add the quotation marks, but I'm too damned lazy.

"Mommy Wants Vodka" is the title of a popular blog by a major player in the blogosphere, Becky Sherrick Harks, or Becky Harks Sherrick. I get confused about which is her maiden name and which is her married name, and haven't yet committed the mental resources necessary for me to keep it straight. At some point I may. Then again, maybe I won't, and I'll go through life totally ignorant in regard to which is her correct name. C'est la vie. I'm ignorant about things far more important than that, as I am reminded on a daily basis by relatives close and not-so-close, both physically and biologically. At least my very cloeest biological relative, my twin brother, seems to have quit (or at least to have placed himself on the injured reserve list) of the team of relatives whose dedicated purpose is to remind me on a regular basis of just how stupid, ignorant, or otherwise thorough a waste of space on the planet I am. Thanks, Matthew, for no longer being one of those people.

Becky Sherrick Harks or vice versa wrote somewhere that she had originally considered naming her blog "Mommy Wants Vicodin." I actually like that name better than the one she ultimately chose. Someday when I am a parent, I may ask her for permission to use the name. She probably won't answer me, though.

Becky Sherrick Harks (or vice versa)'s column has a feature, "Ask Aunt Becky." There's a space where readers can write questions. Somewhere I read that the questions are answered on Sundays. I wrote her a question that needed sort of a timely answer, but answers to questions on her column did not appear yeasterday. That may have been because it was a holiday. It also may have been because answers appear somewhere else and I don't know where that place is. The bottom line is that I don't know if Aunt Becky answered my question already, if she didn't get to it yet, or if she never will. Some question/answer formats are so impacted that getting an answer is a million-to-one shot. I have no idea how it works in Ms. Sherrick Harks' (or vice versa)'s case.

I'll ask people here. I get a very limited number of readers, and an even more limited number of responders. If you're ever going to respond to my column, please respond now. I really need input, and I need it in the semi-anonymous format from which I'll get it here. I can't afford to position myself in a kiosk at my local mall with a clipboard to seek opinions of passers-by. Help me! PLEASE!

My old columns allude to a prom date from last year that apparently wasn't meant to be. I was in a wheelchair with a mangled leg and a broken clavicle at the time of the prom. The guy who had invited me to the prom uninvited me, though not personally, or by phone, email, text-message, Western Union, singing telegram,smoke signal, or anything so direct. He announced it in the school cafeteria. Those who heard it, including his new prom date, actually delivered the message to me in person.

I was invited this year, but that invitation fell though, though not through the fault of the guy who invited me. I won't give any details, but I really don't blame him for the mess. Now another guy has invited me. I know nothing of his intentions. I don't know him well. I don't know if he invited me on a dare, and he's going to do a grand no-show. I don't know if it's a bet and he stands to collect tons of winnings if he shows up in public with me. I don't even know if my parents bribed him with cash to get him to ask me.

My mom tells me if I do not attend my senior prom I will one day regret it. Maybe she's right. If I do go and find out that I was somehow on the wrong end of a joke, I know I'll regret it a lot longer and harder. My brother says he'll kill anyone who sets me up in any way, but that won't undo any of the actual public humiliation.

There are people I could trust to ask this, but they're dealing with issues in their own lives right now, so I can't bother them with my petty problems. I could make myself sick and not have to go, but if the invitation happened to be for real, that would be cutting off my nose to spite my face.

As realistically and objectively as I can, I'll try to describe my own social schema. I'm a very nerdy girl. I don't think others see me as ugly, but I'm small and underdeveloped. I'm an academic overachiever. Generally speaking, I'm not picked on or targeted by bullies. I was once physically assaulted, but it was in response to a situation where a person was punished for stealing a paper I wrote; he and his friends retaliated against me. The instance was isolated and not ongoing. I really don't think what happened to me falls under the umbrella of bullying.

I'm sixteen, but I'm finishing high school this year, so it's my final shot at my own prom as a high school student. There is life after high school, so I know that I'm not doomed to a life of complete failure if I miss this prom. Still, I want to make the best decision. If I were in possession of a crystal ball, the decision would be an easier one to make.
All I have, however, are an invitation that at face value seems a bit suspicious, my mom's insistence that everyone who's anyone at all goes to her senior prom, and a gut feeling that something here might not be on the level.

People who don't usually respond, please respond. The more opinions I have to bounce around, the more educated my final decision will be. If you are not yet a high school senior, you will oneday be one, and may find yourself in a similar situation. If you were once a high school senior, have a little compassion and give me your opinion even if you don't normally bother with such things.

PLEASE!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Twitter Followee Khloe Kardashian

Through some mysterious process unbeknownst to me, I became a Twitter follower of Khloe Kardashian. I do not recall ever clicking on a
"Follow" icon anywhere near her name, but stranger things have happened. Perhaps I've become a somnitweeter, or whatever would be the correct term for someone who uses a Twitter account in a state of sleep. Maybe my computer is possessed, and Satan or one of his minions clicked on the Khloe Kardashian "Follow" icon for me. Perhaps I clicked the icon in a momentary lapse of judgement or awareness, or maybe I left my computer unattended and someone else clicked it for me. Perhaps I've developed a seizure disorder (I've notice from my viewing of the TV program "House" that seizures are far more common than one might think), and one of the things I do during my seizures is to randomly click Twitter "Follow" icons. Whatever. I'm now a Twitter follower of Khloe Kardashian.

The logical course of action would be to click on the "Unfollow"
icon next to her name. For some reason I can't explain, I haven't done so. I don't usually even read her Tweets, which are many. She's a prolific if semi-literate Tweeter. Many of her Tweets pertain to publicizing upcoming "reality" shows featuring her or other members of her family. At other times Khloe Tweets about Laker games, which is logical, as her husband plays for the Lakers. Khloe Tweets to and about members of her family in such ways that would be considered inappropriate by my own family or, for that matter, almost any family I know.

Khloe recently Tweeted a criticism or complaint about her brother Rob, if I recall correctly, and his use of wax for hair removal from various body parts. In a moment of stupidity eclipsing even my normal stupidity, I responded via Twitter, "Why do you even know? I haven't a clue what my brother does or doesn't put on his private parts." I know that response from me was both stupid and about as futile as attempting to convert a Jehovah's Witness who shows up on one's doorstep to Roman Catholicism, Armenian Orthodoxism, Presbyterianism, or just about any ism more conventional than that form of worship which takes place at the Kingdom Hall. (If you tried interesting any of them in Branch Davidianism, you might actually have a shot at success.)

Khloe gave no response directed specifically to me. I don't think she customarily responds to fans' Tweets except on very rare occasions to those Tweets of an extremely laudatory nature. Still, not long after my Tweet to her, the following Tweet was posted by her: "Fake people really put a damper on my whole mood."

It may be that her Tweet and mine were parallel and not in any way interactive. If, however, there was a cause/effect relationship between her Tweet and mine, I am loathe to report to my 8.5 readers that those of you who are unaware and/or do not discuss what, if any, forms of hair removal your siblings use on their private parts, are fake people and you put a damper on Khloe Kardashian's whole mood. You, as well as I, should be ashamed!

Public Nudity, Breastfeeding of Children Over the Age of Thirteen, and Related Topics

I've noticed something ever since I've been tracking viewing of my blog. This may come as less than a news flash to most of you out there who are slightly less clueless than I, but certain headings attract more readers to click on them, if only initially, than do others. If I didn't have parents, or if I had ones who were less "involved" in my daily life and who let me write about whatever I wanted for my semi-public readership of roughly 8.5 hits per blog, my titles could feature topics such as "Kama Sutra and Student/Teacher Interactions" or "Breastfeeding of Children Over the Age of Thirteen," or even "Discreet Non-Coital Sexual Relations in Public Locations Including, But Not Limited to, Places of Worship." On the other hand, my parents are "involved," and chances are that my mere mention of these hypothetical topics upon which I neither have touched nor will touch will result in, at the very least, a lengthy discussion that may or may not result in the loss of at least one privilege and/or the imposition of an undesirable consequence.

What I've really tried to say in entirely too many words is that more people would click on my blog if the headings alluded to topics of a more-or-less erotic nature. If the blogs themselves actually covered the sex-related topics implied by the headings, I'd have even more people actually reading past the first sentence. If I were allowed to or even wanted to write smut, far more people would be interested in reading what I have to write than have any interest under present circumstances. This, as was mentioned earlier, is not exactly one of those "stop the presses" bits of information.

Beyond those areas that fall under the umbrella of of "explicit content," some headings or subjects in general garner more attention, more hits, or more readership in general than do others. If I were to write tonight of Lindsay Lohan's upcoming legal battles, more readers would be attracted to this blog than if I were to write about my own upcoming court case. (For the few of you who care, it's comming, and once it's settled I'll have the freedom to write about it within certain constraints.) Anything I've written about Judge Alex has attracted greater-than average readership. When I discussed Dr. Phil's guest, Jessica Beagley, of hot-sauce-in her-adopted-child's-mouth-as-a-form-of-discipline infamy (What in the world has happened there, by the way? That was supposed to have come to court in March? Does anyone know the outcome?)the same was true. When I referred to the massive size of my boobs in a title (I was being totally sarcastic, by the way) the number of hits was nearly double what it typically is. Almost anytime the LDS church makes it into a heading for one of my blogs, the number of hits jumps, although I auspect these results may be skewed by relatives from my father's side of the family snooping to see if I'm taking cheap shots at all they hold sacred and dear.

So how does one achieve the balance of writing about what readers want to read as opposed to saying what he or she really wants to say? This depends in part on one's reason for writing. If one is writing professionally, unless the writer has attained the stature of, say, Stephen King, one needs to write about what interests the reader. If a person is a newspaper columnist, the newspaper or syndicate has ways of tracking the interest level of an author's column; failure to maintain a certain level of interest among readers will presumably result in unemployment. If a person's writings are for the purpose of academic assignment, the instructor is God, for practical purposes, and thus determines whether the subject matter is sufficient to meet an assigned topic. If one is writing for pure pleasure, one may write about what he or she chooses, keeping in mind that under that present framework, parents and others have access to what is written and may manifest dissatisfaction in ways that negatively impact the writer.

What is my purpose for blogging? It's essentially a school assignment. I'm given few constraints beyond what my parents and teachers impose both for the confidentiality necessary for my well-being and for the decorum otherwise known as censorship that keeps school administrators as uninvolved as I desire for them to remain.

Why do I really do this? I'm presently in the Mountain Daylight Time Zone, where it is roughly 2:00 a.m. Shouldn't I have better things to be doing now, namely sleeping? Am I really sitting in bed with my laptop open because I'm obsessing about my grades when I've already been accepted into and have committed to the university of my choice? The answer is probably no. Something more intrinsic must be compelling me to do this.

If this is what I want to do as even an avocation (I'll probably pursue another career avenue, although it may be one that involves a considerable amount of writing), I'll have to find the happy medium of finding topics that hold both my attention and that of my potential readers. While there's a certain allure in trashing the Kardashians in print on a daily basis, or in making inflammatory comments about things that are sacred to half of my family, doing so would be taking the easy way out. There has to be a nobler cause. What it is I do not yet know.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Less Than a Week!

Prince William and Kate Middleton will be wed in less than a week! I, for one, amd truly excited at the prospect, and I'm not even British, even by ancestry. I can scarcely imagine the anticipation with which the British are viewing the upcoming nuptials.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Judge Alex's Facebook Page Revisited

I should give credit where it is due. The "others" who frequent Judge Alex's Facebook page have shown civility, perhaps even kindness, toward each other in the past week or so. When I'm finally eighteen and am declared by my wardens to be mature enough to own a Facebook page, I plan to click the "like" button on Judge Alex's page to officially become an "other." Until then, I'll just read the page. When I come across something truly profound or noteworthy, of course, I'll feel free to comment about it here. Nothing's ever stopped me from doing so in the past. Why should that change?

Judge Alex Ferrer himself was, is, and will presumably continue to be a class act. He is a true gentleman who takes time from a schedule that has to be hectic at the very least to offer words of comfort and encouragement to fans who have little or nothing to offer him personally; in most cases, they're not even members of Nielsen ratings groups. He just performs random acts of kindness (I've developed a fodness for the use of trite and hackneyed phrases, but my point is sincere) because he's a decent and honorable human being. He was a good man before the tone on his Facebook page took a turn for the worse, and he continues to be one now that the atmosphere there is again one of appropriate decorum. He even makes time occasionally to answer my sometimes inane questions or to comment on my observations, the acts of which serve him in no conceivable way other than perhaps to weight karma ever so slightly in his favor.

I'm seated several chairs away from my parents at my Auntie's law school convocation, which is why I'm allowed to type on my blog while the featured speaker is droning on about a topic that interests probably no one in this building, including even the speaker's wife. My uncle understands and is blocking my parents' view of me so that this thirty minutes of my life that I'll never get back may be used at least semi-productively. I wouldn't for the world have missed seeing my aunt be awarded her Doctorate of Jurisprudence, but the featured speaker is a total bust. Being allowed to blog has at least turned the featured speaker's portion of the event from an ordeal into a mild waste of time. My uncle is at times a savior to me, in a minor sense, of course.

Judge Alex should be speaking at this law school convocation instead of the bloviator currently hogging the microphone. The wisdom Judge Ferrer shares with the public every day on his court show holds more value than anything that's been blasted over the microphone here in the past thirty minutes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Aunt Graduates tomorrow

It's that time of the year for universities, high schools, middle schools still in the dark ages (Middle school graduations, or commencements, are rapidly going the way of those who believe Ann Coulter has anything worthwhile to say, and under the the "Jethro Bodine Clause," which offers the practical reasoning that since even Jethro of "Beverly Hillbillies" fame made it through sixth grade, there's no legitimate purpose for throwing bashes complete with caps, gowns, and limousines to commemorate the successful passage of students from eight grade, similar to the logic that certificates and awards aren't usually presented for learning the proper way to flush a toilet.) Even preschools to hold ceremonies commemorating successful passage from one phase of learning to the next.***

Medical issues forced Auntie Jillian to pass on tonight's university-wide commencement ceremony, but the truth of that matter is that she really didn't want to be there anyway, and if the real medical emergencies of pseudomonas aeruginosa-induced pneumonia and perforated ulcers requiring two separate surgeries to remove and resect portions of her intestines hadn't materialized, Auntie Jillian would have invented a hangnail or cramps as an excuse to pass on the opportunity of hearing just one more member of the LDS church hierarchy bloviate on the virtues of integrity, regular class attendance, and the blessings associated with giving generously to the various alumni associations when telemarketers call at inconvenient hours to hit up recent graduates still deeply in debt with student loans, using their most effective guilt-inducing techniqies to wrangle donations from the near-destitute.

Tomorrow evening is the Law School Convocation, which is considered the "real" graduation among law school students. That ceremony Auntie plans to attend. The logistics of her attendance and participation haven't entirely been effectuated, although her father-in-law has many of the details hammered out. He's a former professor with the university who still maintains ties, so the Powers That Be at least pretend to listen to most of what he has to say even though he probably has no more knowledge than the family dog about the best way to get a young woman who is for practical purposes temporarily either an invalid or a cripple (take your pick of which term you find less offensive) and whose record number of post-surgery steps is, as of this evening, twenthy-eight. Her father-in-law counted the number of steps needed to reach her seat on the stage from the point at which the graduates begin their procession. His total, with his stride that is probably at least 1.77* times greater than hers, was one-hundred=ninety-seven steps. If you believe in miracles, please begin praying for one immediately. If you have any direct connections with Benny Hinn, please persuade him to fly to Provo and heal my aunt before tomorrow evening.(It would be ideal, incidentally, if he didn't make her fall to the floor in a state of unconsciousness immediately after being healed, as do most of his subjects, as there will not be enough time to clean and re-press her gown prior to the ceremony, much less to re-style her hair and makeup.) Any way we configurate the data, someone needs to alert Houston to the existence of a problem.

A wheelchair has been recommended as a way to transport my aunt from the point at which the graduates' procession begins to her seat on the stage. This isn't, all things considered, necessarily a bad idea. My aunt, however, was an NCAA Division I athlete, and has always taken pride in her strength, endurance, and vitality. She feels that people would be judgimg her because she is not a member of the majority religion, and the people judging her would henceforth reach the conclusion, spoken or otherwise, that her failure to follow the LDS "Word of Wisdon," which is a set of rules governing what can or cannot be eaten, drunk, or smoked, and would conclude that by her failure to follow the "Word of Wisdom," she herself had brought upon herself her physical misfortunes. That's what she says, anyway, even though, as a non-Mormon, she actually adheres to more of the tenets of the "Word of Wisdom" than do most practicing Mormons, and, on a non-sick day, can "run and not be weary, and walk and not faint" better than almost anyone, whether Mormon or Catholic or Branch Davidian (if there are any Branch Davidians left). This is all just what my aunt says. Her real worry is that people will look at hr funny if she is pushed in a wheelchair or somehow makes it to the stage any differently than anyone else. She's a girl. So am I. That's the way we think. I'd feel exactly the same way under identical circumstances.

Several of her law school classmates offered to piggy-back her or to carry her up to the stage or to transport her on one of those shairs (were they called litters?) on which royalty used to be transported by underlings. The university nixed both suggestions and other similar ones.

Her brother suggested that she sit in the front row of the audience and join the procession as it reached her. This idea has nor yet been rejected, which means that it will probably be the plan finally adopted. There are still concerns about the length of the ceremony and her ability to sit through it. A member of the law faculty who is also a doctor suggested placing her out of alphabetical order. (This would be a serious breach of protocol and might even require a signature from some head honcho Mormon, if not a vote from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS church, for it to be even considered, much less allowed.) Anyway, the idea would be to place her on the back row so that she could be discreetly removed from the group and placed on a stretcher or couch nearby for portions of the proceedings that don't directly require her input or participation. She might not receive the full impact of the messgage of just how important it is to continue to give generously whenever the annyoing phone solicitors call during the dinner hour demanding a pledge and a credit card number, but she at least stands a chance of still being conscious when it is time for her to traipse across the stage and to receive her piece of paper that others are supposed to believe is an actual diploma. Real diplomas will not be mailed out until sometime in June, after the university's equivalent to the CIA has investigated sufficiently to know that she hasn't publicly denounced any church or universitiy authorities, hasn't acted in any way to effect a veto Proposition Eight, or has not accrued any library "overdue" fines.

Even traipsing across the stage is more of an issue for my aunt that we would like it to be. Is she capable of walking across the stage unescorted or unsupported? Under optimal circumstances the answer would be yes, but nerves, temporary weakness, and the possibily of a jealous classmate sticking his or her foot out to trip her remain real possibilities. My uncle has offered to excort her, but since no one else is being escorted across the stage by a spouse, my aunt is concerned about the appearance of this. My advice to my aunt about this matter is that she most likely has a better-looking spouse than anyone else in the entire law school class. Why not take advantage of a legitmate excuse to show him off and make others jealous? She is at least considering my advice. Other members of the class have offered to be on standy-by, and to walk more closely ahead of and behind her than would normally be done so that they can support her, catch her, carry her, or do whatever is needed.

My final bit of advice to my aunt was somewhat controversial and, I'm sad to say, wasn't taken all than seriously, although I hope that she will rethink the matter and reconsider. Because of her unique situation, all eyes will be on my aunt, for better or for worse. Why not use this attention as a platform to make a statement. She could speak of Jessica Beagley and of her mistreatment of sweet little Kristoff, or she could briefly air her view about Donald Trump's unfitness for any political office, including that of the Mayor of Wasilla, or could address her views about financial assistance for university students, or could even offer her views concerning Rebecca Black's talent or lack thereof. It isn't every day that one has a platform from which he or she will be heard. When everyone is looking at you, use the unwanted attention to your benefit.

* 1.77 is a figure I came up with totally arbitrarily, but it sounded good, so Im sticking with it.

*** In my opinion, preschool graduation ceremonies are acceptable if for no reason other than that preschoolers are inherently cute, and any opportunity to display their cuteness is a worthwhile endeavor.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Girl Named Jesus and Her Brother October

My friend Rebecca mentioned to me that she used to scare and/or annoy her mother by insisting that when she has a daughter, she will name her "Prudence Opal." Rebecca's mother was greatly disturbed by the idea of having a granddaughter saddled with the name "Prudence Opal." She tried exhaustively to convince Rebecca that one of the names by itself might possibly be acceptable, but together? This made me very sad, though not because my friend was either going to have to choose a name other than "Prudence Opal," for her baby, who isn't, incidentally, even inside the front door, much less in the oven, or risk her mother's displeasure. What made me sad about the story as Rebecca told it was that I love to come up with ways of getting to my parents that are utterly annoying and/or alarming, yet won't quite result either in my being grounded or thrown into juvey. This would have been a most praiseworthy way of accomplishing just that. I must give Rebecca highest commendations. (It should be noted that Rebecca is a seriouly nice, sweet kid. This is probably the most evil deed of which she is capable.)


Unfortunately, this act of parental harassment will never work for me for one very simple reason. My mother herself used the very same tactic on her own parents and older siblings. There isn't time or space in one blog to detail just what a despicable child and adolescent my mother was. The simplest way I can think of describing the very evil nature that was her persona at the time would be to tell you that my mother was very likely the worst child on the face of the planet who never smoked, never had premarital sex (including the kind that President Clinton said wasn't really sex), never drank, never did drugs, never killed anyone, never vandalized property, never got into fights, never stole, nor broke into or out of jail. For that matter, I don't believe she was ever arrested, or even detained. That's just how good she was at being bad!

She used to, at the occasional family dinners when both parents and several sibliings, and possibly even siblings' spouses were present, bring up potential names for her future offspring. Part of my mother's motivation was to plant the seed in the minds of those present that such offspring might actually be on their way, but no one present took that aspect of her name threats seriously. It seems that a physical sequence more often than not often precedes the onset of puberty, and my mother had yet to reach even stage one (breast budding) of the sequence. Another reason for lack of concern in this regard was that my mother had yet to discover or to be discovered by boys, and home methods for conceiving babies by using turkey basters were hardly common knowledge among high school freshman in my mother's day.

For these reasons, my mom's shock value was limited to the names themselves with which she came up. When every other facet of her operation was so perfectly preposterous, I don't know why my grandparents and aunts and uncles took her choice of names seriously. My mother's initial choices of children's names were based on cigarette brands. My grandmother was a heavy smoker, which was a bome of great contention between her and my grnadfather both for the negative impact on the family budget and for what he perceived as the negative influence on their seven children. My mother's choices of "Tareyton" and "Kent" as the names for her two offspring bolstered his claims. Next, my mother chose to make my grandfather's proclivity for consumption of hard liquor a bone of contention by insisting that her children would be named "Jim Beam" and "Jack Daniels." Eventually she gave up particular causes and just chose names for the oddity or impropriety of the names themselves.

Roughly once a month the family dinners would occur, and each time the family gathered, someone -- more often than not often my Uncle Ralph-- who was at the time not yet my Uncle Ralph, both because I had yet to ve born and because he had yet to marry my Aunt Victoria. When my mother was asked, she came up with all sorts of unusual selections, but always two each month, because it was teo children that she planned to have. One month it was "Deputy" and "Fortissimo." Another month it was "Scuba" and "Lariat."

My mother always insisted that she would have one boy and one girl. When the names were "Scuba" and "Lariat" one of the relatives asked her which name was the boy's name and which name was the girl's name. "I haven't decided that yet," she told them.

In time, she seemed to settle on two particular names, "October" and "Jesus."

"Are you going to pronounce it the Spanish way; you know,
'Hay-suess'?" asked my Uncle Ralph, who by this time had married into the family.

"I don't think so," my mom answered him.

"Why not?" someone else asked.

"Because we're living in the United States of America! Duh!" she answered whomever it was who asked.

"What if yout baby's not born in October?" someone else asked her.

"What if it's born with three heads? What's that got to do with anything?" my mom asked.

"Which name is for the boy and which one is for the girl?" my grandfather asked her.

"I'll probably name the girl Jesus," my mom answered him.

"That makes sense," he commented to no one in paeticular.

"What makes you so sure you'll have a boy and a girl?" my grandmother asked my mom. "You usually get whatever you get, and you don't have a whole lot of say in the matter." As someone who had given birth to seven babies, my grandmother would have known at least as much as the average person about babies' genders.

"Mother . . ." my mom sighed. "I won't be having any babies until at least the 1990's. By then, they'll have it down to a science," she explained slowly, as though she was talking either to a person who was hard of hearing or to one who was not particularly smart. "You'll pick the sex. You'll pick the hair and eye color." She paused to stare pointedly at my Uncle Ralph. "You'll probably even be able to weed out the fat ones if you want to."

As was typical, no one bothered to argue with my mother because doing so was an utter waste of time and energy. Everyone finished their dinner more or less in silence. My mom said she couldn't help with dishes because she had to pay off the winners in her football pool that she ran. She drove off (at the age of fourteen; the legal driving age in the state was sixteen) in the late-model Trans Am that she had paid cash for herself with winnings from her various sports betting pools.

The years passed and my mother grew into a person who functioned more-or-less normally and followed most of society's rules. She went to college, where she actually attended class. Within about six years, she had earned two bachelor's degrees, one master's degree, and two doctorates. She married my father, who at the time was nearly through medical school. She worked at various psychotherapy and educational psychology jobs. Eventually she became pregnant with twins, but went into labor at about twenty-one weeks of gestation, and neither twin survived.

Fast-forward to nearly two years later. My mothre was again pregnant, and it was again twins. Through what was most likely an anomaly known as superfetation, one twin was conceived probably eight weeks before the other, so the twins - a boy and a girl- arrived weighing six pounds, nine ounces and two pounds, two ounces respectively. The smaller twin spent some time in the neonatal intensive care unit, but both babies ultimately were fine. Their parents had to decide upon names for them. By this time, not only had their mother's taste in names changed; she had a husband who was also a parent of the twins, and as such felt that he, too, was entitled to some say as to what their names would be. A compromise was reached. The boy was called Matthed John, and the girl was named Alexis Anne.

Though both grandparents had passed away before the twins were born, the family continued to get together periodically, perhaps every two months or so, for birthdays or other social occasions. Practically every time we were carried into whatever home at which the gathering was held, Uncle Ralph would holler out, "Look! It's October and Jesus." We had no idea who or what Uncle Ralph was talking about.

I developed receptive and expressive language at an early age, and soon noticed that it was always as Matthew and I entered the house that Uncle Ralph announced the presence of "October" and "Jesus," or sometimes he said "Jesus" and "October." It eventually occurred to me that Uncle Ralph believed Matthew's and my names really were "October" and "Jesus." I knew that if I did not clear this matter up with him, chances were that he would be calling us those names for the rest of our lives, and eventually others might begins to believe, too, that those were our actual names. I pondered that matter, wondering what might have given Uncle Ralph the misconception that our names were "Jesus" and "October." I didn't know whether he thought I was Jesus or October, not that it really mattered.

Eventually it dawned on me that my mother had given birth to other twins before us who had died. My parents didn't formally annnounce this to us, as we were only about fifteen months old, but people had spoken of the other twins in front of me often enough that I had made some sense of the situation. It was perfectly clear. Uncle Ralph was confusing Matthew and me with the earlier twins. I needed to set him straight.

I quietly approached Uncle Ralph as he was seated on a couch opening a can of beer as he shouted at the TV because of something that had displeased him in the basketball game being shown. "Uncle Ralph," I said to him softly. He listened, probably because he was caught by surprise at a fifteen-month-old child calling him by name. I didn't realize it, but the room had grown quiet, and others were listening as well. "My name isn't Jesus," I told him. "I'm Alexis." He stared at me. "And he's not October," I told him, pointing at my brother Matthew, who was seated in a high chair eating dry Cheerios. "He's Matthew."

"You keep calling us 'Jesus' and 'October.' I think those were the other twins," I explained. "The ones that died. But we're Alexis and Matthew."

Uncle Ralph set his beer on the floor and covered his face with his hands. I couldn't see that the reason he was shaking was because he was laughing. He looked around for my mother, then breathed a sigh of relief when he didn't see her.

He did evetually notice my father sitting on an ottoman across the room. "Sorry about that, John," my Uncle Ralph said to my dad.

"It's OK," my dad said, "But you should probably call 'em by their real names from now on so she doesn't say something in front of her mother."

Several years later, when the aunts and uncles had just begun to fill me in on the stories of just how rotten my mom had been when she was a kid, the story of the names came out. I had a vague recollection of the confusion and of the conversation with my Uncle Ralph. When we're on the dairy and my mom is nowhere near, as at least as far away as the next county, my Uncle Ralph sometimes still calls me Jesus just for fun. Is it any wonder that I'm confuzed anout religion, among other things?

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Aunt Was a Bit Under the Influence (Permission to Post This) PARENTAL DISCRETION ADVISED: 2 WORDS EVEN MY PARENTS WON'T LIKE, & MY DAD IS THE ONE WHO SAID ONE OF THEM

My Aunt Jillian has been critically ill and is in the hospital. Things were looking grim for awhile, but she has since taken a few major turns for the better. What I'm describing here is second-hand information. I'm never allowed to be around when anything this much fun is going down.

I should explain for the purpose of clarification that my dad is an MD. He is primarily a research physician and is board-certified in oncology, hematology, and trauma. With his status as a research physician, he is in contact with many eminent researchers in various specialities all over the nation, and, in some cases, even all over the world. If anyone in the family or close to the family develops a serious medical condition, my father calls his contacts in the various specialties to gain their insight as to how best the condition can be treated. This is basically a good thing, and has conceivably resulted in the lengthening of lives of some of our loved ones. There is, however, a downside to my father's access to medical experts. After speaking to an expert in any given medical field, my father soon comes to believe that he, too, is an expert in the field in question. Because other members of the family cannot see the forest for the trees as I can, my father was made the case manager, or doctor in charge of my aunt's medical care.

Last night my aunt was given some sort of drug cocktail that was intended to control her pain and to keep her calm so that her breathing would remain steady, among other things I don't even know about. I'd say the drugs were also prescribed to keep her libido in check, but I've gotten into serious trouble for saying things like that before, and besides, it's probably her husband's libido that needs to be kept in check. (Sorry, Uncle Scott.)

What actually happened to my aunt in relation to these drugs was that she began to think that almost everything she saw or heard was unbelievably funny. A crack on the wall of her hospital room appeared to her to resemble a swastika. She laughed for nearly five minutes about this. Keep in mind that the hospital is located in, of all places, Utah. It may not have been a coincidence that the crack in the wall resembled a swastika, if indeed it did. Then she noticed a misprint in the Deseret News. What is even marginally unusual, much less funny, about finding an error in the Deseret News? Beyond that, it's not as though the misprint itself had been an inherent source of mirth, such as if in [hypothetically] describing a throat ailment suffered by Michelle Bachman, the braintrust that is the Deseret News editorial staff had mistakenly printed vulva in place of uvula. I would have understood if she had laughed about something of that nature. What she actually laughed about was, if my source is correct, a lack of subject/verb agreement. That's high humor, all right.

Then she was in her hospital bed while her dad was seated next to her in a recliner. She was watching a DVRed episode of "Judge Alex." Her dad doesn't actually enjoy watching "Judge Alex," primarily because anytime he's around when the show or the man is on TV, someone invariably mentions that my aunt's dad bears a striking resemblance to Judge Alex. For some reason this offends him. I can't quite understand this. It's not as though he's being mistaken for the Elephant Man or for Glenn Beck. What is so freaking offensive about being told one resembles Judge Alex, at least if the person told that is a male? Anyway, my aunt's dad was watching the program with her because she almost died so he felt obligated to humor her. So as the two of them were watching "Judge Alex" and he was feigning interest but was probably fixating on when and where he was going to find his next beer that would not be a 3.2 beer in the state of Utah, a commercial came on advertising some sort of male sexual enhancement drug -- Viagra or something of its ilk. I don't really keep track of them.

My aunt decided that it would be highly improper to watch a commercial about a male sexual enhancement drug with her father, so she reached for the remote control. As she tried to grab it, in her drug-induced state of physical uncoordination, she accidentally threw the remote control all the way across the room. I believe even the battery fell out of the remote control. The TV in my aunt's hospital room is situated so high that Lamar Odom would not be able to reach the controls even if he stood on Khloe Kardashian's shoulders. So, since my aunt was forced to watch a Viagra (or its rough equivalent) commercial with her father, she started to laugh uproariously.

A nurse came in to check my aunt's blood pressure. She looked at my aunt's father as he sat in his recliner watching the sexual enhancement drug commercial and bluntly asked him, "Are you wearing mascara?" He looked away without even answering the rude nurse. My aunt started laughing uproariously again, which must have thrown her blood pressure reading off, because the reading was something like 186 over 130. This concerned both the rude nurse and my aunt's father.

My aunt should not laugh too uproariously now, no matter how funny something is, because she has very recently undergone two separate abdominal surgeries, and she still has internal and external sutures from each. Any suture that she breaks will have to be repaired. If she ruptures enough sutures, she could begin bleeding internally all over again. My dad tried to explain this to my aunt. She found his explanation almost as funny as the Viagra commercial itself. My dad gave up trying to reason with my aunt. He sent for more drugs - a specific sedative that would keep her calm and not in a state of perpetual hysteria.

A nurse came in carrying a syringe with the prescribed sedative in it. In my aunt's room, there are many medical personnel present not because they work there but because they are related to my aunt. They all began arguing about who should give my aunt the injection of the sedative. While they debated, my aunt took the antiseptic swab and cleaned a spot on her arm. The room full of chiefs continued to argue about who should give her the shot, so the Indian grabbed the needle from the nurse and stuck it in her own arm, apparently doing a pretty good job for her first time. At least we're assuming it was the first time. Maybe she was a major druggie in middle school. Only God knows for sure. Everyone else was horrified, but she thought this was the funniest thing that had happened yet.

As her dad was starting to yell at the nurse for not more properly securing the syringe, the nurse, totally out of the blue, asked my aunt's dad, "Do you have a spray-on tan?"

"No. I'm Cuban," he told her. "Not too many of us Cubans are albinos."

At hearing that - I think it was the word albinos that really set her off -- my aunt totally lost it. She was lying on her bed holding a pillow to her stomach and laughing so hard she had tears rolling down her face. My dad knew she couldn't have another dose of sedative again so soon, so he sat on her bed, got right in her face, and started trying to get her to do some sort of deep breathing exercises so she could gain control of herself. Her brother looked over at her and at my dad and said, "John, it looks like you're doing Lamaze exercises with her." Lamaze was another apparently funny word, and she had to laugh hysterically all over again. "Thank you so fucking much!" my dad said to her brother. This caused her to laugh even more.


It was just like an old episode of "PeeWee's Playhouse," where there was a secret word, and if any unsuspecting fool said the secret word, everyone else would scream and laugh, except there were multiple secret words, and my aunt was the only one who was privy to any of them.

My dad became so incensed that he printed and attached to the outside of the door a note that said something to the effect of "This hospital room houses a SERIOUSLY ILL patient. A SOMBER atmosphere is to be maintained at all times in this room. There is to be ABSOLUTELY NO HUMOR IN THIS ROOM UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. ANYONE WHO CANNOT ABIDE BY THIS POLICY MUST KEEP OUT! The following words may not be uttered in this room: SEXUAL ENHANCEMENT, VIAGRA, MASCARA, SPRAY-ON TAN, CUBAN, ALBINO, LAMAZE, and FUCKING."

Practically everyone who walked in, or even saw the sign, basically said something like "What the hell?"

People who walked in, or even medical personnel who just walked by, began to add random forbidden words to my dad's list. By the end of the night, the list of forbidden words, in addition to my dad's original list, were CUNNILINGUS, BERNARD MADOFF, SARAH PALIN, QUADDAFI, JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, REBECCA BLACK, KIM JONG IL, PROPOSITION 8, FIDEL CASTRO, and H1N1.

When my mom's friend Kristeen walked into my aunt's hospital room, she called my mom on her cell phone to tell her what my dad was doing. When my dad could hear my mom laughing over the phone, he asked to talk to her, but he didn't talk -- he just yelled at her for a minute, then hung up. He got out his Blackberry or Smartphone or whatever it is that he has that I'm not allowed to have even if I pay for it myself, checked out drug interactions, and learned that my aunt could have Lunesta without negative interactions to her other drugs. He gave it to her. She conked out in no time. By the way, she never messed up a single suture in her drugged-out revelry.

My dad took an Ativan and then kicked out everyone but my aunt, her husband, and her parents.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Aunt

My aunt in Utah has had two ad=bdominal surgeries for intestinal bleeding. That aspect of her condition seems to have stabilzed. She isn't yet able to do the things she needs to fo do clear jer lungs because of her cystic fibrosis. Machines and other people are doing all sorts of things for her, such as moving her extremities, virtually coughing for her, and suctioning her airways to remove secretions. Her own body needs to begin doing themse things itself as soon as possible. She needs narcotics because it hirts the incision siye to breathe as deeply and to cough as hard as she beeds to. Alos, she can't cough too hard, because that could reopen incisions. The sooner her incisions heal, the sooner she can do what her body needs her to do. The drugs make her loopy and make it hard for her to understand and follow directions, but she has to have them. my dad says he has to sort of get right in her face and tell her what to do. My dad's not a pulmonologist, but he;s in constant touch with her California specialist and some specialist from the East coast or midwest or somewhere; I can't remember where everyoine is from.

I don't want my aunt to die, and I don't want her to have a diminished quality of life,

Judge Alex sent my aunt a peronal "Get Well" message, which was very kind. She hasn't been coherent enough to understand it, but we're hoping she will be tomorrow, and that it will give her the boost that she needs.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Judge Alex's Facebook Page: A Turn for the Worse

I have an aunt who is not technically my aunt, but she functions as one. She's only seven years older than I, but she's through undergraduate school, has a master's degree, and is nearly finished with law school, so it's like she is of a totally different generation than I. Our fathers have been best friends since they were about twelve, and our mothers became close friends as soon as they married our fathers. When i was little, I stayed with my aunt's family because I was very ill and my mom was too scik with cancer to take care of me. My aunt has taken responsibility for me for three summers in a row, sort of like a one-kid summer camp.

One thing my aunt and I have in common is "Judge Alex," the TV court show. I started watching it religiously the first summer I spent with her. since then I've been a regular viewer. I read the "Judge Alex" Facebook page. Although I'm not an "other" becuase my parents haven't allowed me to join Facebook. My aunt is an "other" on Judge Alex's page.

In reading this page, I've noticed that things have gotten very ugly. A few ladies who call themselves the gaggle seem to desire to rule the page. They make inside jokes that aren't even semi-funny at others' expense. They claim ownership of ludicrous things, such as of a supposed artist who is supposedly creating a portrait of Judge Alex Ferrer out of beads. If this artist even exists. The whole thing reeks of a hoax to me, and not a particularly funny one at that, as the "artist" is supposedly 105 years old. The artist refers to the people who praise her or, more likely, to the people who invented her, as "my angels." I think, although I may be speaking erroneously here (and if any of the gaggle were to learn that I spoke erroneously,however innocently, woe would be unto me) that each of her three or four "angels" has a separate name. If anyone else on the board lays any claim to the artist or to her work, the gaggle loses its collective feathers. It's a scary sight to see.

Since I don't have Facebook posting privileges, this is purely hypothetical, but if I were to post on the page that I had it on inside authority that the beads used for the judge's eyes were hazelnut-brow, I would be attacked, probabl with my name posted in capital letters, for writing something that was incorrect. If I suggested that the eyebrows were created with ink-black beads rather than with raven-black beads, the same would happen.

In any event, fanatics will be fanatics, fools will be fools, and mean people will be mean people. I really could not have cared much less until the gaggle chose to be unkind to my aunt. My aunt is a sweet soul who is unkind to no one. She traps stray cats and pays to have them spayed or neutered. She buys something from every kid who comes to her door selling something -- even when it's that ridiculously over-priced stale peanut brittle. She has even taken her students and their siblings into her home for months at a time when their parents could not care for them.

On top of everything else, my aunt is seriously ill. She has cystic fibrosis, which is usually diagnosed in early infancy but inexplicably was not in her case. She's working hard to finish law school even with her illness, and this gaggle of honkers is poking fun of her and denigrating her merely because she politely defended a friend when the person was put into a virtual pillory for supposedly inaccurately reporting on the status of the all-important beaded portrait of Judge Alex.

These honking geese are speaking of my aunt as though she is a very stupid person even though their combined post-secondary years of education probably do not equal hers. Furthermore, she's never received a grade as low as an A minus in her entire life. They're taking polls among themselves about when she'll comment next, and taking great pleasure in announcing the winners. They're making fun of her and hurting her feeling, and clicking "like" on each others' negative comments about her. Her friends wish, and probably rightfully so, to stay out of the fray, but the end result is that she feels she has no friends and is being ganged up on and outnumbered, and is beginning to believe that maybe they're right and she is stupid.

My aunt is at the very end of law school. She has to finish a take-home final, present and defend a brief, and question others' briefs, for which she will also be graded. Right now she is too sick to do any of this. She's on the floor of her bathroom with towels to keep her warm against the cold tiles of the bathroom floor and the chills she's suffereing from her fever. Her husband is working a twenty-four hour shift at a hospital out of town and can't do anything to help her. Her husband's relatives are either out of town or too b usy to help. Her parents live thousands of miles away. My parents live more than eight hundred miles away. No one can help her.

This gaggle of subhumanity on Judge Alex's Facebook pagehas no level beneath which they will not stoop. They don't care if they make my aunt so sick that she can't finish her final academic obligations. They probably wouldn't even cared if the illness killed her. She does have cystic fibrosis, and any illness is worse for her than it would be for another person without cystic fibrosis.

These women proudly call themselves Christians.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I've almost returned to the world of the living

At some point last night my headache became too great to bear. Dr. Jeff had sent a message to me that he was prescribing meds, but my computer had been taken away at that point, and no one was too quick to get the medication to me or even to let me know ir was coming.

As soon as the desk was unmanned momentarily, I hopped over it and buzzed myself out. With me I had a small amount of cash and a jacket. I didn't plan to stay long -- just long enough to get to an open pharmacy to by an over-the-counter headache remedy.

Dr. Jeff appeared on the floor not too much later. He asked if the medication he prescribed had been administered. It hadn't. According to my sources, he was not pleased with the nurse who was to have been responsible for dispensing the medication. Then he went to my room, where I was not. He again appeared at the nurses' station to inquire as to my whereabouts. No one had a clue. Security was alerted, as were police. Dr. Jeff himself went searching as well. Dr. Jeff guessed correctly, which was that I would be headed in the dirextion of the neareast pharmacy that would be open at night. Several pharmacies operate in the vicinity of the hospital, but their hours are eight until six, or something like that. I was looking for a Walgreens, Rite Aid, or CVS.

Dr. Jeff located me a block from the nearest Rite Aid. I didn't bother running from him. He's faster than I am even on a good day, and my headache had reached epic proportions. He picked me up and carried me to his car, buckled me in, called the authorities to let everyone know I had been found, and drove me back to the hospital. The police showed up at the hospital. I had to speak with them briefly, but Dr. Jeff told them that I was too sick to be aware of what I was doing, and that the problem was with a particular member of the nursing staff and not with me. The police seemed to let it go at that. I've never gotten off so lighltly for anything I've done, although I know I'm not totally in the clear yet. I promised my Uncle Scott that I would not leave the facility unauthorized again, and he's not going to be quite so willing to write it off to a really bad headache.

Dr. Jeff drove me from the hospital to his house. He retrieved my computer and phone from the nurse who confiscated them first. He told me that he would medicate me with good drugs that would allow me to sleep, and that if I was well enough to travel in the morning, he would drive me all the way home.

I still have a headache this morning, but I'm no longer upchucking everything I even look at, so we made the trip. His daughter came with him. He offered to take her to some amusement park on the way back, so she was happy to make the trip.

My mom and dad aren't remotely mad at me. I'm tucked away in my bed with an intercom so that I can call them if I need anything.

Dr. Jeff said the nurse is history if he has anything to say about it. He said that if she will treat the child of someone she knows is a friend of his in such a manner, what's to stop her from being even less professional when a child who is not connected to someone important is involved?

I'll stay here until next weekend. Then I'll go back until Thursday, at which time I'll fly home for Easter.

It's almost time to spring my Utah plans on the parents. In some ways I'd like to skip them because I know my Uncle Scott will be really mad at me, but this is something I really want to do, so I'll brave his wrath.

My head is pounding, but I just got another dose of something powerful, so I shouldn't be suffering for long.

Friday, April 8, 2011

New address; I don't know it yet

In the extremely unlikely event that someone tries to reach me here, I probably won't be here. I can't really leave a forwarding address, and not just becaue I don't have one. I suppose my next address might be juvey, although I don't know what county in which anyone would attempt to incarcerate me. Then again, maybe not. With all the bona fide violent juvenile offenders around, someone who wishes not to remain in quarantine for a contagious repiratory illness that is not even tuberculosis is probably a pretty minor offender in the grand scheme of things.

Uncle Steve and Aunt Heather, thanks so much for the cards and well wishes, Uncle Ralph and Aunt Victoria, I would extend to same message to you except I'm still grateful for the room that you had redone.Relatives on my mom's side, even if you didn't know I was sick, why? Do you pay so little attention when other people's kids gey sick, or is it just I you ignore since I'm sick all the time? Relatives on my dad's side, you never liked me before, and the feeling has always been basically mutual, so what else is new?

I don't eben know what I'm trying to say unless it's that everyobe i'm related to is really mean.

Except for Rebecca, Aunt Becky, Judge Alex, Marianne, and Matt, the same can be said of my cyber-acquaintances as well.

Dislike Mail

Note:The heading is euphemistic. I'm not permitted to use the word hate in reference to people.

This is addressed to my mother or to anyone eelse for whom the shoe fits:


You clearly consider it a burden to answer my messages, whether I've left them on you voicemail, on your text messages, or on your email. Since it is such an obvious inconvenience for you either to take my calls or to answer my messages, don't. I'll try to make it easier for you by not calling or sending texts or leaving voice messages for you to answer. You're plainly too busy, and I do not wish to keep you from more pressing matters.

It is good that I no longer live with you so that you do not have to be bothered on a day-to-day basis with my insignificant concerns

Help!

I'm still in quarantine. My friends and I can look at each other through a glass window, and I can have limited phone calls. That is not enough contact with the outside world for me. My dad visited on Monday, but it's Friday now, and I haven't had any actual visitors since then. If the illness itself, whatever it is, is not killing me, the boredom and loneliness are. I need to get out of here, or I need company, or I need something different than what I have right now. Even though I promised my Uncle Scott I wouldnt't sneak out again, I am seriously considering doing just that. I can't handle much longer in this place. The cable has gone out, and there isn't any other TV reception. Internet connections are spotty at best in here. I've tried six times to send this post over an eight hour period. I'm not overly optimistic that this message will go out, either.

Someone please help me!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jessica Beagley, Dr. Phil, and Other Things

Jessica Beagley, the Stake Primary President of the LDS Church who appeared on Dr. Phil to share, highlight, or lament her childrearing practices, including -- but not limited to -- pouring hot sauce in her adipted Russian orphan's mouth and forcing him into cold showers, was sypposed to have appeared in court at some time in late March to answer to charges of child abyse. Nothing, as far as I can find, has been reported of this court appearance. Does anyone who reads this blog have any idea what happened in relation to this case? Any updates would be sincerely appreciated.

P. s. Morbid curiosity aside, God bless little Kristoff.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Coming Out

This is probably no the form of "coming out" that one would expect. At this stage of my pre-adokescent existence, I'd have to guess that I'm as heterosexaul as the next person. My hormones are not yet in overdrive, but with each pasing day I see signs of the upcoming proverbial roller coaster ride. The "coming out" of which I speak is of an entirely different ilk.

When I began blogging just more than a year ago, I didn't wish to be the fifteen-year-old that I was. Sixteen sounded more glamorous, suphisticated, and cosmopolitan than did fifteen. For some inexplicable reason I've never cared for the sound of the age of fifteen, even long before I actually approached the age. My parents quickly noticed this. They found the practice of advancing my age by a year, as well as the reasons for it, to be superfluous and silly, but did nothing to stop it, in part because it masked my identity slightly more than the degree to which it was already covered.

Now that I'm no longer the distasteful age of fifteen, there's no longer a solid reon to hold onto the deception. I'm sixteen years old. If any readers (all three of you) feel that you've been deceived, I apologize. Deception was mever my intent. Rather, my goal was to bypass the age of fifteen, which, in additon to the lack or sonoroity of the word as perceived by my delicate ears, is pretty much a nothing age. Nothing much of interest happens to anyone at the age of fifteen, other than for a few of the girls at my high school who managed to get themselves knoced up between their fourteenth and sixteenth birthdays. We'll leave that one alone for now.

How does my new revelation change things? Perhaps a reader would be more understanding of my parents' apprehension at sending me away to college next year. Sixteen-and-one-half, while not unheard of, is a young age for a student to leave home for college. My brother Matthew, who is an athlete, will probably attend a year of prep school somewhere in California before venturing off to a four-year university. I'm more likely to attend the nearest university to my parents' new home, as they'll be moving next summer. I've already had acceptances to all the UC campuses as well as to Stanford. I just need to commit before the deadline. I probably won't be allowed in a dorm the first year. While I don't agree, it's a small price to pay.

In the grand scheme of things I seriously doubt this has much of an impact. Still, it's one more step on my continuous journey of acceptance of who it is that I actually am.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Quarantine

I have a respiratory illness that may be contagious, so I'm isolated right now. I have access to TV, and I can talk either on my cell phone or through the window to my friends. I won't be traveling home this week either to visit or to compete in athletic events. My dad will be working in southern California for a few days, so he'll stop here on his way there tomorrow.
I'm bored but I'm sleeping a lot, so that helps the time to pass more quickly. I wish I could go home. If I have to be sick, it's so much more comfortable to be sick in my own bedroom.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

E. E. Cummings (capitals intended!)

Earlier this week in my tutoring duties, I came across an assigned composition topic that caused me to wonder precisely what mind-altering substance the teacher had taken prior to assigning the composition. First of all, the assignment involved the work of E. E. Cummings, who is my least favorite poet either to walk the Earth or to ride upon its surface in a wheelchair. E. E. Cummings allegedly authored his first poem at the age of three. His first work: "Oh,the pretty birdie,O; with his little toe,toe,toe." I hope you have a barf bag within reach. The sad thing is that his poems never got significantly better. If forced to choose, I would elect to respond in a one-hundred page dissertaion to the vacuous haikus my brother authored for homework under threat of parental abuse in third grade before I would write ten pages in response to any or all of E. E. Cummings' works. I find Cummings' disdain for capital letters and punctuation to be highly a annoying affectation.

Obviously someone must have found some worthwhile tidbit somewhere amidst the works of Cummings, or his writings would have received neither the acclaim nor the notoriety that would give anyone a reason to write about them Nonetheless, I will venture onto a limb here: The emperor is naked! * The works of E. E Cummings suck! I apologize for my lack of eloquence, but sometiomes the best expression of one's point is in the vernacular.

Not only was this a writing assignment about the works of E. E. Cummings, which would arguably considered a violation of the Geneva Convention if forced upon a prisoner of war. The entire minimum-five-hundred-word composition was to focus upon one isolated line from "anyone lived in a pretty how town." If you're familiar with the particular Cummings work, try to guess the line the teacher selected for analysis. If your guess was, "he sang his didn't and danced his did," you won the jackpot. How does one come up with one-hundred words, much less five-hundred, about "he sang his didn't and danced his did" ? I felt so sorry for the girl that I was tempted to write the paper for her myself, but I knew I couldn't do that, and besides, I would never voluntarily write about E. E. Cummings.

I finally gave my tutoring subject some ideas about how dance is a more fitting medium for celebration, i.e. football players and their signature end zone moves, while song is more suited for lament. I helped her find a few quotes about blues as an art form to give her a little more material on which to expound. I'm supposed to meet with her again next week in order to produce a final copy from her rough draft. She has my sympathy.

The only thing I can think of that might be worse than writing a single composition on the assigned topic would be reading thirty or sixty papers on the topic, depending upon how many sections of the course the particular instructor teaches. I cannot fathom a more mind-numbing experience. My friend says that with drugs, all things are possible. I suspect that, just as drugs were most likely part of the inspiration for the topic, drugs will be essential in the grading process as well.

Sayonara.

*Thanks for the inspiration, Matt.

Tutoring and Community Service Part One

My high school, as do many other high schools, has a graduation requirement of community service. Thirty hours of volunteer time must be served in a mutually agreed upon field or fields. The requirement's intended purposes involve both prevocational exposure and the promotion of volunteerism. In my particular situation, I was, for the most part. unable to serve the community of my high school because I've spent very little of this school year in that community. My community service instead has consisted of playing the piano in childrens' wards and at various functions associated with my hospital, as well as upon tutoring other students in English, math, and science, both in person at my hospital and via computer through skyping.

The musical element of my volunteer hours exposed me to very little to which I hadn't already been exposed, although a part of the musical service I hadn't mentioned included providing piano lessons to an eight-year-old girl with gastro-intestinal issues that have kept her confined to the hospital almost as much as I have been since I arrived here in October. That experience, which sort of fell into place when the child's parents materialized as I was playing the piano in a playroom in a children's wing one morning, has been delightful. The little girl had begun studying piano a little more than a year before I first had contact with her. When her parents learned that I would be spending substantial amount of time in the hospital, they offered to pay me to instruct her in piano. I convinced them that the hours of community service would be of greater benfit to me than cash payment for lessons. Spending time with her has been fun, and it has been gratifying to see her progress from playing only the most basic of piano primer tunes to tackling simple classics.

The math tutoring has been just like math tutoring always is. High school math students are basically one year ahead of where their parents were at the same age, for the most part whether or not they're ready to be. Curriculum has trickled down. In previous generations Algebra 1 was taught in the eighth grade, but as often as not it was repeated in the freshman year of high school. It is now standard for students to take geometry or even Algebra 2 as freshmen.

My mother, who is both a school counselor and an administrator, says math classes themselves are not usually taught as they were twenty or so years ago. Back in the olden days, a teacher did more explaining to the group as a whole, calling students to the board for guided practice. Now group lessons are often shorter, with the teacher then splitting time between individual students and small groups, while students work independently and with other students on both daily assignments and projects, or on taking computer math tests that assess benchmarks and standards. The end result is that many students have not had sufficient direct instruction or guided practice.

I provide instructon and clarification to the students I serve. Today's math students are not slow; they're just struggling with a more complex curriculum while receiving less instruction and academic supervision. They need more repetition, and they need explanations of concepts they don't understand in a somewhat timely fashion. While I'm not finding a cure for cancer, and I'm certainly not exploring a profession I have any intention of pursuing, I am at least helping a few people who would otherwise be struggling more if I were not there.

Science tutoring sometimes includes explaining of diffiuclt concepts, but mostly I help students to determine which concepts, terms, definitions, and formulae are the most essential to comnit to memory. Additionally, I help them with ways of mentally organizing the material for quick retrieval. This includes grouping of terms and the use of mnemonic devices when necessary. Nothing I'm doing with any of these students is bona fide rocket science, but most of them tell me that my assistance has been a benefit to them.

Tutoring in English has consisted mostly of guiding students in analysis of literature and to assist them authoring compositions, which most often address specific topics of literature analysis. This is the area of tutoring that has been most enlightening to me. Math and science are more cut and dried. While opportunities for creativity in instruction of math and science occasionally come up, for the most part the instruction, the assignments, and the concepts are reasonably similar for the specific course regardless of the students' states of residence or teachers for particulr courses. Teaching of literature, on the other hand, is far more subjective, and brings all sorts of creatures out of the woodwork. Asignments and composition topics even within the confines of a particular subject of English or American literature can and do vary widely.

Some assigned topics for composition make perfect sense to me. One student was to select for analysis, comparison, and contrast, both a Shakespearean sonnet and a more modern sonnet. Arguably, this topic may have been done to death to the extent that Shakespeare, if he's able to observe what's going on in high schools today from wherever he is now, regrets ever having penned even a single sonnet only to see its essence massacred by yet another high school senior. Still, all but the least culturally literate members of our society should have exposure to and knowledge about Shakespeare's sonnets, as well as the ability to count the lines of a poem and determine that it is, indeed, a sonnet in structure. Other assignments are similarly practical if unimaginative.

to be continued